A man who contracted a potentially fatal Sars-like virus has been connected to an artificial lung to keep him alive. The 49-year-old, from Qatar, is being treated in an intensive care unit at St Thomas's hospital in London after he became infected with a new coronavirus.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said that the man, who is in isolation, is receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (Ecmo) treatment, which delivers oxygen to the blood outside the body when the lungs are not able to.

The man, who was suffering from acute respiratory syndrome and renal failure, was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha, Qatar, on 7 September. He was transferred to the UK by air ambulance on 11 September. Before he became ill he had travelled to Saudi Arabia.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the man has contracted a "new virus" which has only been identified in one other case. That patient, a 60-year-old from Saudi Arabia, died as a result of the virus. A spokeswoman for the HPA said preliminary inquires had found no contact between the two patients.

The organisation is also investigating a "small number" of cases which could be linked to the virus. One patient, who travelled to the Middle East in the past three months, was treated in the UK but has since died, the HPA said.

A spokeswoman for Guy's and St Thomas's added: "We are following strict infection prevention and control procedures to protect patients and staff."